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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hump Day Review: All-Star Thoughts

A slightly delayed Hump Day sports review after some technical glitches. (I just love having to constantly reset my Comcast connection, don’t you?) So here’s my All-Star edition of my quick-fire responses to the stories that caught my attention this week:

This one counts. First of all, the All-Star Games determine home-field for the World Series every year, so it would be just fantastic if someone at Fox could figure out that “this one counts” is a stupid catch phrase for their advertisements about the game. But since the network can’t figure out that an entire channel acting as the media wing for the Republican Party doesn’t qualify as a “news” station, I won’t hold my breath.

More importantly, this one shouldn’t count. Though baseball still probably has the best all-star game in sports, the notion of giving it true meaning has only detracted from the game. It was great to watch the best of the best go out and play a game with all the their skill and effort just because it was the game they were playing that day.

This all started because Bud Selig panicked when the game went into extended extra innings one year, and called the game because the teams ran out of pitchers. Instead of adding a bunch of pitchers to the roster who would know upfront that they were there in case the game went long and shouldn’t necessarily expect to play, he added “value” to the game.

Now that it means something, there’s too many questions. Should fans, including radio station DJs (or whoever) who organize ballot-stuffing (or clicking) marathons, really decide the starting lineup? Besides that, isn’t a little strange that the starters are generally on the bench for most of the game? And, what exactly was so bad about giving the team with the best record the home-field in the World Series?

All-Star Voting I. Kudos to the fans for not voting Manny Ramirez to the All-Star Game. The problems with letting fans decide the lineup for a game that “means something” aside, it would have been a disgrace to see a guy come off a 50-game steroid suspension only to be considered an All-Star.

All-Star Voting II. The vote to select the final member of each roster is pathetic. There’s never been a more blatant attempt to drive traffic to a .com and, by the way, drive up advertising revenue, under a such a ridiculous veil of “doing” something else. If voters don’t notice the advertisements, they hopefully noticed the pre-checked box that says, “I would like to receive commercial e-mails from my favorite clubs (below) and” I’ll do whatever I can to drive traffic to my own website, which by the way is, but does baseball need to stoop so low? How long until voters on get to draft Mr. Irrelevant?

Let Raul play. I don’t care if Raul Ibanez is off the disabled list for the Phillies or not, he should play next Tuesday. The guy’s 37, caught lightning in a bottle for half a season (hopefully more) with career-best stats to make the All-Star team, and seems like a truly good guy. Fans are probably too jaded to hear this with good reason, and even as I type this I’m wondering what could go wrong with the Ibanez story line, but it’s just too much of a “feel good” story to not get to see a 37-year-old first-time All-Star even though he hasn’t returned or will have just returned from the injured list.

Note: With three days off from any real games by next Hump Day, I may give the review a week’s hiatus.

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